LeBron James responds to NBA's coronavirus plan, says 'I ain't playing' without fans

The NBA has reportedly warned teams to prepare to play games in front of empty arenas due to concerns about the coronavirus.

LeBron James isn’t happy with that plan.

Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, James was asked about the NBA’s leaked memo about protecting fans and players from the coronavirus. His answer left no ambiguity.

“We play games without the fans? Nah. Impossible. I ain’t playing if you don’t have the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. So, if I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in there? I ain’t playing. So, they can do what they want to do.”

Since the coronavirus has the potential to turn into a public health crisis, the NBA can definitely do what it wants here. It’s about protecting fans and the public at large from disease, so while James may not want to play in front of an empty arena, it’s possible he might have to.

The NBA and other North American sports leagues have been making plans in the event that the coronavirus begins seriously affecting the continent. NBA players were advised in a memo last week to limit exposure to fans, including autographs, handshakes, hugs and high fives. The NBA suggested that fist bumps, which limit skin-to-skin contact, replace high fives for the time being.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has infected 100,000 people worldwide and caused at least 3,400 deaths. There have been 300 known cases in the United States, including 69 in California, resulting in 14 deaths nationwide.

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